Speaker: ‘We must not lose sight of tremendous negative economic effects of COVID-19’

Speaker: ‘We must not lose sight of tremendous negative economic effects of COVID-19’
Now is the time to elevate discussion of COVID-19 economic effects

JUNEAU – The State of Alaska is grappling with the public health effects of the new coronavirus COVID-19, with a statewide school closure in effect this month and actions by local governments and community organizations to limit the spread of the disease by reducing large group gatherings.

While these steps are necessary to protect the health of Alaskans continues, they come at a real cost to our state’s economy.

House Speaker Bryce Edgmon (I-Dillingham) today sent a letter to Gov. Mike Dunleavy urging collaboration between the Legislature and the executive branch to turn attention to the drastic effects the global pandemic is having on our state’s economy.

“We must not lose sight of the tremendous negative economic impacts of the many necessary public health actions made at the local, state, and federal level,” Speaker Edgmon wrote. “Individuals and businesses are suffering, and the effects will compound every day that our economy remains at a standstill.”

Specifically, the speaker urged a review of the following economic and public health proposals:

  • issuance of state-backed bridge loans financed by the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority or other state corporations;
  • opening, or making preparations to open, temporary homeless shelters or quarantine sites;
  • allowing the Department of Labor and Workforce Development to provide additional emergency assistance no wait time for unemployment benefits, and classifying all quarantined individuals as unemployed;
  • ensuring that everyone who needs to be tested or treated for COVID-19 will not be forced to pay out-of-pocket for their treatment;
  • restricting access to all state buildings to protect our state workers and all Alaskans, and taking additional measures to limit large gatherings statewide;
  • establishing telework mandates for state workers;
  • enacting travel restrictions that will limit the number of people arriving in Alaska from COVID-19 hotspots;
  • identifying ways to protect rural Alaska because of the lack of adequate food supplies and limited health facilities;
  • any other ideas that emerge to stimulate our struggling economy or to protect the public health of Alaskans.

ATTACHMENT: A copy of the March 16 letter from Speaker Bryce Edgmon to Gov. Mike Dunleavy.

Austin Baird
Communications Director
Alaska House Majority
(907) 465-6791